The “Grounded” Family

According to Merriam-Webster the word “grounded” is used to describe a person who is sensible and has a good understanding of what is really important in life. I really appreciate that definition. In fact I’d like to say I relate to that definition. However the word “grounded” has had a very different meaning in my house lately.

Ever feel like all of your kids’ brain cells have gone on the fritz at the same time? I mean, there’s one child I expect it from, but ALL THREE?! AT THE SAME TIME?!! How is this fair? What did I do to deserve this? (Pity party begins.) I have gotten used to grounding the youngest. He is an independant, strong-willed, boundary pushing child. Lately if he isn’t grounded it’s momentus. That’s why when I got the call from his teacher I wasn’t shocked. Instead I was thinking what can I take away now? He’s already grounded! Apartently a mom of one of the girls in his class emailed the teacher saying her daughter and 3 of her friends heard him say the “C” word with definition. WHERE would he have even learned that word? It’s NEVER said in the house. I asked the teacher if she had ever used the soap-in-the-mouth method (on her own children, not her students…relax) and if so what kind of soap did she recommend.

That was a Thursday and yes I did stick a bar of soap in his mouth, but only for 15 secs cause MA had me worried that any longer and he’d have diarreah for days! He didn’t like it. AND he had to write an apology letter to his teacher. Nevertheless, relief was in my sights because his dad was going to have him ALL weekend and I would get a break…so I thought.

B and I shot a wedding that Saturday so we were on our feet from the time we woke until past midnight. I had already designated Sunday as my cleaning day and thats when I found it. I walked into the twins’ room and there was a piece of paper on the floor with and arrow drawn on it, “For mom” written under the arrow. It pointed to 2 more papers turned upside down. I turned them over to discover that they were letters from the boys and under the letters were their report cards. Before I read the first sentnce I knew. They had both done so poorly I wondered what planet the pod people came from that had obviously inhabited my kids’ bodies! J has never NOT been on the A/B honor roll and G had finally gotten on the A/B honor roll last quarter only to have one of those A’s drop to an F! WHAT?!!! Or more appropriately, WTF?!!! The letters gave me all the excuses as to why this happened. I actually teared up I was that shocked.

You know that advice you get to sleep on things and give yourself time to cool off? Well they came home that night so there was no sleeping on it, but I did cool off. Especially when I was taking their TV and XBox out of their room. And when they walked in the door and I confiscated thier ipods. (Insert minanical laugh here.)

I was going to write about the down side of grounding like the constant complaining that they don’t know what to do and they’re bored. Or them following me around. Or the increase in arguing without the distractions of technology. But instead I decided to list some of the benefits (end scene on the Pity Party):

1. I have a tv and xbox that I use every day to watch my shows.
2. B has a tv and xbox to play Walking Dead.
3. They have done a ton more reading and drawing and playing music. (Go creativity, Go!)
4. With their earlier bed times I have more ME/US time.
5. I’ve been able to see more of them and their personalities and have come to realize they’re pretty funny. That silly little kids humor is turning into HAHA humor (at least for me).

Oh and E is no longer grounded…for the moment.

Name Changing Dilemma

It’s that time again…Drivers License renewal time! Come to think of it this is the first time I am having to renew my license since I moved to NC in 2005. And it’s my 40th Birth year. WOW! Lots of change going on. Which leads to my latest dilemma….to change my name or not to change my name.

I have a memory stuck in my head of getting ready for my roommate’s wedding in Wilmington, NC on November 5th (I think that was the exact date) when I received a phone call from my Attorney asking me if I was planning on changing my name to my maiden name. The question caught me off guard. She needed to know that day since she was preparing paperwork to be filed the following Monday. I asked if I could call her back and immediately called MA. I asked her to confirm that keeping my married name for the kids was for the best, after all I’d heard of kids having to explain why they had a different last name than their mother and I didn’t want to put my kids through any unnecessary stress. She encouraged me to go with my gut and so the name stayed. And I think I did the right thing…then.

Now…the kids are adjusted to the situation and seem perfectly at peace and I REALLY don’t want the same last name as my EX. Not that I don’t love some of his family members as if they were my own. And not that I don’t want to be linked to my kids by sharing their name. I just don’t identify as that person anymore. I don’t even like saying my last name when I introduce myself. And I like my maiden name. It’s who I first identified myself as and it’s who I still am today.

So why even suggest that there’s a dilemma, right? I mean, it seems like I’ve got the answer in the bag so to speak. Eh, not so much. It’s not easy to change your name. There are several documents that need to be filled out and taken to different places in particular steps within a particular time. And there is a cost. Not a huge cost, but a cost just the same. And I have to renew my license SOON (which has it’s own cost). Plus, there is someone special in my life (duh!) with whom there may have been discussions of getting married one day, but NOT before my license expires! So, again, do I go through all the work to change my name only to have to change it AGAIN in the near-ish future?

And now the fun part! I am posing the question to you. Do you think I should change my name back to my maiden name? Keep my married name? Or wait to one day be remarried?

Beauty

There are times when I feel overwhelmed with the beauty of life. It’s everywhere when you look for it. And it’s real beauty, not what the media wants you to think is beautiful.

I am fully aware that there is an abundance of negativity out there, how can I not be with the constant bombardment of tragic news stories (because that’s what sells), and the incredibly well thought out comments on social media (and by well thought out, I mean NOT). There have been many times I’ve consider deleting my Facebook account because of the ugliness I see on it (don’t tell B, he’ll know he’s right). The hateful political comments, the judgmental digs on complete strangers…what happened to think before you speak? Or if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all? Or do unto others as you would have them do to you? There is still wisdom in these archaic ideals, people! Just because you have the right to free speech doesn’t mean you should ALWAYS use it! There is still something to be said about being slow to speak.

Before this turns into a “Can’t we all get along” speech, let me get back to my original thought. The beauty that overwhelms me…A child’s giggle when her mom bounces her daughter on her leg. The way a friend knows exactly what to say to make you feel better when you need it most. An ex-brother and sister-in-law that still and will always consider you family “no matter what”. A stranger giving you a complement while waiting in line for coffee. Making new friends you know you will be friends with for a long time no matter your differences. The love of your life looking over at you to just look at you because he loves the way you look. Your teenage son who doesn’t go a day without tell you how much he loves you accompanied with a hug an kiss. The parents who will do everything they can to help you out even though you are not their responsibility and you didn’t ask them.

If you haven’t recognized the pattern yet, let me spell it out. Beauty is in RELATIONSHIPS.

I know that I am not always the best friend. I forget birthdays and anniversaries. I may not call for a few months or return Facebook messages right away. But I do love my family & friends and I think they know I am there for them when it counts most. Friendship a quality I continue to re-assess and work on. It’s a quality I fear most people don’t really consider too much. I am urging you to consider it. I believe you can be the overwhelming beauty in another person’s life!

To Sell Or Not To Sell? Is It Even A Question?

The longer I’m a home owner the less I see the benefit of it. I understand the concept of building equity in a home, if that’s really what’s happening, and the whole putting down roots thing did resonate with me at one time, but that honeymoon has ended. I am ready to be a renter once again. I can hear the exclamations already: You’re paying for someone else to reap the benefit of equity; The taxes and interest are tax deductible; You can make whatever changes you want to the house if you own it; You don’t have to worry about having pets; etc. It’s not enough though. The time has come and of course I am going to tell you why…

Reason #1: Taxes!

I have a great house and it’s got great space for my family. I have a yard that’s mostly fenced in (I’ll expand on that one later) and I live in a nice neighborhood. Since I’ve lived here I have refinanced 3 times! And still my mortgage increases ever year. Why? Because of taxes! I know that rent increases as well but you get  a couple months notice before it happens and you can make a choice to stay or look for something more affordable. Every year I am completely surprised when all of a sudden I go to pay my mortgage and it’s $10, $15, $20 dollars more than it was the entire last year. I don’t like those kind of surprises. Can I look for a cheaper place to live? Not without preparing my home to be shown hoping it will be sold, if it will even sell in this market, and going through a lengthy paperwork process that can take months. Just talking about it gives me anxiety.

Reason #2: Trapped!

While the real estate market is improving it is far from healed. When we decided to buy this house it had only been on the market 3 days. We had to rush to get our offer in because houses were flying off the market. Now I see realty signs boasting “Sold. Only listed 45 days!” My parents listed their beautiful home with an in ground pool for 2 years without a single offer! In order to move quickly…well, chances are high that you won’t be moving quickly unless you vacate the house before it’s sold leading to BAD credit. No bueno! It really puts a damper on the discoveries to be had living in a new place (or several  new places).

Reason #3: The Ex!

My Ex and I have a pretty amicable relationship. We still make an effort to be on the same page with parenting the boys and have successfully gotten along better after the divorce than we probably ever did before it. With that said, the house is the last tie to him that allows his controlling nature to rear it’s ugly head. It’s a tool of manipulation for both parties and I don’t believe there will be complete peace until it’s sold. Not to mention the strong desire I have to make a fresh start with B in a place that’s ours and not mine and my Ex’s. He’s done very well with making this his home, we repainted and redecorated, but there are little reminders that I lived here with another in a life before him. It’d be nice to be free of them (and by them I am NOT referring to my sons!).

Reason #4: Things Break!

This past weekend we had a great visit with some friends at our home. Halfway through the day I noticed it was getting warmer but the air conditioner was on and running. I could hear it and feel the air moving at the intake, so I didn’t worry too much about it. It took another hour or two to realize that the air being pumped through the vents was room temperature. I was freaking out inside while maintaining a cool demeanor outside for my friends and the boys. In reality I was living one of my worse fears. My mind was a jumble of what if’s, trying to plan out what to do next, knowing full well that I didn’t have the money for a new HVAC unit. That night we bought a window AC unit and B, the boys and I all slept in one room for two nights (we tried to make it exciting rather than dooms-day’ish). THANK GOD all the unit needed was a new compressor! And THANK GOD we have extended family with the know how to replace a compressor! That doesn’t remove the gut wrenching anticipation I constantly feel waiting for the next big thing to break though. I still have part of a fence out thanks to a wind storm and a HUGE tree that broke through said fence and landed on the trampoline. (The trampoline was not harmed much to the boys’ relief.) Then there’s the hole in the bathroom wall, which mysteriously gets bigger after my youngest has been in there, and the door bell that’s missing the part you push on, and the bath tub that wants you to take a bath every time you shower, and the weeds that think they’re trees, and the broken window in the garage that the birds use as their personal door…and the list continues. How nice it would be for all that to be someone’s problem that’s not me.

So now I just need to get the repairs done and the house ready to be sold. No big deal…right?

Side note: The boys still ask if we can all sleep in the guest room again. I guess we made it too exciting!

OMG I Sound Like My Mother!

I remember the first time I heard my mother’s voice come out of my mouth. All at once I understood. I was being initiated into a secret society I didn’t remember pledging to and wasn’t sure I wanted to be a part of. But it was too late!

My twin toddlers undoubtedly did something that I had told them MANY times not to do and inadvertently opened Mommy’s flood gate of “THAT’S IT”.  If you ask me what those exact words were that formed in my brain and leap off my tongue, I would not be able to tell you. It wasn’t the words exactly, but the way in which they were said. They had her tone of voice all over them. Despite all my pronouncements as an adolescent (as most adolescents do) that I would NOT be like my mom when I grew up, I had indeed inherited some of her traits. And to my surprise it wasn’t as upsetting as I thought it’d be. Quite the opposite actually. In that moment of clarity I finally got her! And with it came a deep sense of appreciation.

For most of my childhood my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Not because she wasn’t a strong-willed independent woman (if you know her at all you’ll know I’m not lying), but I believe it’s what she and my father thought was best. I am so grateful that they did. There was a security that came with my mom always being there. She was able to be involved in our school activities. She made sure we had healthy social lives. She baked…not everyday but there wasn’t a Christmas that went by without our kitchen becoming a cookie factory so she could give trays of cookies away to everyone and their neighbor. She encouraged us creatively with messy projects. She was (and still is) a great story teller. And boy could that woman get mad! And quick! What I didn’t realize then, but do now, is the amount of work and brain drain that goes into being active in your childrens’ school activities, social lives, baking, messy projects and even making up stories. It’s exhausting! No wonder her fuse was short.

There is another side to sounding like my mother. My mom is always ready with an encouraging word. If you ever read the comments on this blog you’ll know what I mean. I don’t think there’s one post she hasn’t commented on, each more encouraging than the last. I love hearing her converse with her grandchildren (which I just got to do last week when she was visiting). There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that she thinks they’re the shiznit! It’s a trait I hope people will see in me as well. That and her compassion for others. She’s always been easy to talk to. She was, and still is, usually volunteering for one organization or another.  And I can’t tell you how many times we had people staying with us for a week or two until they got on their feet. My friends knew they had a place to go and my mom would accept them with open arms. She just had 3 rules: 1. No drugs, 2. No sex and 3. Don’t leave the toilet seat up. I’m pleading the 5th on whether or not those rules were upheld.

It’s funny how we as humans can have a hard time appreciating someone without walking in there shoes. Becoming a mom myself has been an eye opening experience and I know I have still barely scratched the surface. Both my moms have survived adolescent children, whereas I am just beginning that phase, and there are still so many stages yet to come: college, weddings, grandchildren.  I am fully prepared to be amazed by these two incredible women at each stage as I learn to appreciate them and what they’ve been through more and more. So sounding like my mom.. ain’t so bad!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!